It’s clever but there’s something rank about this Folgers’ campaign.

March 19, 2012


Goes great with rat droppings!

I’m betting this is not a real ad. I got it from Psychographism, a website trafficking in ad-like objects, some real and some not. I’m guessing this clever piece of outdoor propaganda belongs in the latter camp. Frankly, I’m hoping it does. Call me crazy but linking coffee to New York’s sewer system seems like a very bad idea. Especially for such a well known brand as Folgers. They would never do something this down and dirty. Not in a million years.

Zealous students of Adland (the likely makers of this work) are increasingly in the habit of creating risqué advertising, regardless of good sense. Their hearts are more or less in the right place but they are not thinking. Clearly.

Clever as this execution is, it suggests the product tastes like something steaming from below a sewer. In my book that’s a deal breaker.

Where do these ideas come from? My fear is that certain portfolio schools are partly responsible. Teachers and students alike want so much to get noticed that they abandon reason to achieve notoriety. They see fame factories like Crispin Porter & Bogusky making shock and awe and they assume they can and should as well. They see ever more crazy shit on You Tube and they assume stunts and badass behavior constitute the new standard for modern advertising. They saw famous actresses crapping in the streets in the Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids and, well, it and they were nominated for Academy awards!

Therefore, they think: Who cares if it’s a sewer? It’s shaped like a cup of coffee and steam comes out of it. That would make a great ad for Folgers!

True story. A long time ago I was working on a beer account, either Miller or Bud, I forget. (I’ve worked on both.) Anyway, we were in the middle of a big creative presentation and this team presents a commercial set in the bathroom of a bar. It was clever and it got a lot of laughs. But it was also killed. Promptly. The Creative Director pointed out that while beer drinkers do take lots of pisses the brewery would never tolerate their golden liquid being associated with that golden liquid. Or as my amigo, Joe Dapier reminds: “The reason this ambient doesn’t work is the same reason people don’t advertise on urinal cakes.”

Has advertising “evolved” is such a way that prudent creative direction no longer holds water?

4 Responses to “It’s clever but there’s something rank about this Folgers’ campaign.”

  1. On further inspection and a closer look, it’s probably fake. But it sure has fooled a lot of people. As I have stated I have seen it on a lot of sites. But now that I looked closer, it looks photoshoped, it lacks certain characteristics such as glare, reflections and distortions… But I will half stand by my thought that it is effective, not so much for the coffee, barring the fact that Folgers would probably be aghast by it. Not to say that Quiznos didn’t make something sickening into an ad. I shall point out the Sponge Monkeys and the fact that they look like roadkill and Quiznos other bouts with nastiness. But they are different company and come to think about it, not doing so well. But still I think this fake Folgers ad is still slightly effective, for the person who created it. I could only wish something I made would be talked about like this. Anyways I certainly couldn’t get CP+B to look at my stuff, I tried.

    But I certainly like Leo Burnett, and what you did there and that is why I follow what you do.

    That all being said, I design mostly magazine layouts, not many ads. CP+B wouldn’t even touch me, I would guess I am not very outlandish.

  2. Joe Dapier said

    Thanks for the shout out Stef. And yes, I completely and utterly agree with your assessment. If one is going to go this route, it’d better show what you’re selling in a positive light. Classic example of a cool execution with a total lack of a strategy/bigger idea. Congrats on your new gig by the way. Gyro is a fantastic shop.

  3. […] On the not-so-effective side, Folgers decided it would be a good idea to suggest their coffee comes from the sewers.  […]

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